There are certain decisions that we make in coordination with Taylor's physical therapist based on Taylor's physical readiness, motor development and strength...one such decision was when to buy Taylor a bike. While many tots already have bikes/tricycles by 2 years of age, we have postponed that purchase in our home to a later timeframe, to a timeframe that made sense.
Taylor has worked very hard the last couple of years and we've seen remarkable improvements in Taylor's motor skills and overall strength in her legs and as a result Taylor's physical therapist is now recommending introducing a bike to Taylor. YAY! At last, Taylor is physically ready for bikes!
The bike which the physical therapist is recommending for Taylor is manufactured by AmTryke and it is NOT your ordinary tricycle/bike. In fact, it averages around $300.00 - I know, who would've thought we'd be investing in a child's bike/tricycle that costs $300.00 when that child is only 3 years old?! I certainly never would've envisioned that my child's very first bike would cost that much! I grew up riding bikes that weren't even in that ballpark, especially my first bike. I'm pretty sure my parents just grabbed a tricycle/bike off the shelf at the local toy store or mass retailer like Toys R' Us, Target, Walmart, etc. when I was a kid. And, I can assure you, my parents didn't spend $300.00 on my very first bike. But, it's a bike that is most suited for Taylor and her disability and that's what is important. It's a bike, with therapeutic benefits to the rider, and it was actually inspired and designed by teams of physical therapists.
So, what's so exceptional about this bike, well other than the $300.00 price tag? For starters, it has rotating handle bars which are attached to the same chain drives as the foot pedals allowing the child to exercise both the arms and the legs simultaneously or alternatively depending on which motor skills need the most development and coordination - something which is important in children with cerebral palsy. It also comes with a wider wheel base and a tight turning radius so that the child is more secure when riding because this type of bike provides a lot of stability.
While this is going to be an expensive purchase for us, we look at it as a real investment in Taylor's overall motor development and in her future progress. We are continually trying to help Taylor overcome her coordination challenges and balance problems and riding a bike brings so much skill and coordination (not to mention joy and happiness) to every child that we just don't want to miss out on an opportunity to give Taylor the same opportunities as every other child on the block. Taylor's therapist has even seen some children much like Taylor, who can't ride a regular child's bike or tricycle due to their cerebral palsy, make such progress with the AmTryke bike that many of these same children have not only progressed to eventually riding a regular bicycle but also to eventually walking with less assistive devices (without leg braces).
Hopefully, over the coming weeks, we'll be able to save up the money (a little at a time) to purchase this bike for Taylor. Once we have, we'll not only be purchasing a bike for Taylor but we'll then finally purchase a bike for Paige too...believe me though, the bike for Paige will not cost NEARLY AS MUCH! And, of course, it isn't because we love Paige any less, it's just that Paige's bike doesn't need to have quite the same bells and whistles or functionality.